This was my motto when I ran a nonprofit for children with hearing loss and it still is my motto today. I do not care if you choose for your child to speak English, use American Sign Language, use both, or use Signed Exact English.. My hope is that you help your child communicate.
It saddens me that it is the year 2014 and families are still alienating themselves from others because they choose one type of communication and the other family chose another. Doctors and therapists are telling children who get cochlear implants not to sign. Doctors of children who are profoundly deaf are telling families not to even try to learn to speak English. Teachers or schools are set on giving opinions,where opinions are really not meant to be told. Families are divided...all over communication.
I am blessed to be in a school district this year where children who use all communication types attend. Children are using Listening and Spoken English models and some children are using a Conceptually Accurate Signed English approach. Sometimes children speak, sometimes they sign, sometimes they do both. We all may have our personal or even professional preferences or strengths,but we keep them to ourselves. I have taught kids in Pigeon Signed English, American Sign Language, Auditory Oral, Listening and Spoken English, Signed Exact English and Conceptually Accurate Signed English..The goal was the same
I have had two children in my home this year from another country. One boy was from Vietnam and the other was from Belgium. I could have forced them to speak English. They do a really nice job. However, communication involves respect and I believe that means I need to try to communicate to them as well. I used Rosetta Stone and learned Vietnamese..not much, mind you,but when I was Skyping my guest's mom in Vietnam, I understood when she said, "Thank you" and "yes " and " no." That was way cool! My Belgian daughter speaks French-something I studied in my last lifetime. I am amazed at how well I can communicate with her mom in Belgium via Skype and love chatting with her here in French.
I believe truly that the key to connections is communication-if we can't communicate, we will never connect. There is nothing better on earth than good friends:)
Allison Schley has been in the field of deaf and hard of hearing education for 20 years. She founded a nonprofit for families with hearing loss. She most recently wrote a children's book, entitled Forever Friends. This book shows the how a deaf dog and deaf boy teach the world that all kids are good and being deaf is okay.